Western Maine homesteader and author Will Bonsall, in his “Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening,” has a chapter on oilseeds – things like sunflower, flax and hull-less pumpkin seeds, soybeans, rapeseed and corn kernels that can be pressed to extrude cooking oil. He tried his hand at pressing the oils out of a variety of seeds and used the leftover meal to supplement the soil.

He concluded that it was a lot less work and a whole bunch more nutrition for a human to simply eat the seeds whole. So I’ve included a few of these seeds in the mix for these crackers, which you can nibble on while waiting on the promise of a Maine-made cooking oil market to materialize.

Makes 28 large crackers

1 cup local spelt or all-purpose flour (4.5 ounces, 120g)

1 cup local rye or whole wheat flour (4 ounces, 113g)

2 tablespoons roughly chopped raw sunflower seeds


2 tablespoons roughly chopped pepitas

1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary

1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

Maine sea salt

1/2 cup warm water

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, more for brushing


Sesame seeds, optional

Combine flours, sunflower seeds, pepitas, rosemary, yeast and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt in a large bowl. Add the warm water and olive oil and use a dough whisk or wooden spoon to form a dough. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Have either two 10-by-15-inch silicon mats or sheets of parchment paper spread on a flat work surface. Divide the dough in half. Set 1 half on each mat/piece of parchment. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough into a 9-by-14-inch rectangle about 1/8th an inch thick. Trim the edges. Lift the mat/piece of parchment onto a baking sheet.

Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough crosswise into 1-inch strips. Brush the top of each with olive oil and sprinkle each with salt and/or sesame seeds, if using. Repeat this process with the remaining dough.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the crackers from the oven and separate so that the oven’s hot air circulates around each individual cracker. Return the pan to the oven and finish baking the crackers until golden, 4 to 6 minutes more. Cool completely. Crackers can be stored in an air-tight container for a week.

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